European safety regulators have ordered the grounding of Italian airframer Blackshape’s BS 115 single-engined light trainer, after concerns about the potential for structural failure of the wing.

The suspension of all flight operations by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, which also covers the similar BK 160, follows two fatal accidents involving the type.

Investigation into one of these accidents, says EASA, has revealed a structural failure of the wing was a “possible contributing factor”.

Inquiries into both events are continuing in order to determine the precise cause.

But EASA is taking precautionary measures pending further information.

It states that further actions could be required to ensure continued airworthiness of the BS 115, which obtained EASA certification in April 2017. The aircraft is a tandem two-seat low-wing design with a carbonfibre airframe.

The BK160 incorporates a number of modifications from the BS 115.

I-POOC-c-Malaysian transport ministry

Source: Malaysian transport ministry

Malaysian investigators are examining a fatal accident involving this BK 160

While EASA has not specified the occurrences which spurred the emergency directive, Malaysian authorities have been probing a fatal BK 160 accident at Kampung Tok Muda on 13 February.

Distribution of debris, says the transport ministry’s preliminary analysis – released on 13 March – indicates an “apparent catastrophic in-flight separation” of large structural parts.

It points out that the whole right wing was located 560m from the main wreckage.

I-POOC wing debris-c-Malaysian transport ministry

Source: Malaysian transport ministry

Authorities located the BK 160’s entire right wing some 560m from the main wreckage

Investigators are probing a number of concerning aspects. According to the preliminary findings, the aircraft had been subject to a grounding order from Blackshape in October last year – a measure in relation to a fuel-selector indicator – but nevertheless continued to be flown.

There is also evidence that the aircraft (I-POOC) underwent “irregular” maintenance, the ministry adds, including installation of “non-conforming” parts, and servicing by unauthorised or unqualified individuals.

This work included attaching a non-certified tie-down ring through the composite skin on each wing’s underside, bolted to the joint of the wing fitting with the main spar.

I-POOC wreckage-c-Malaysian transport ministry

Source: Malaysian transport ministry

Debris showing the logo of the BK 160’s operator, Aviation Safety Technology

Replacement of the nose landing-gear was also carried out just before the accident – one task of the ill-fated flight was to test this newly-fitted nose-gear.

Dutch investigators opened an inquiry into a fatal BK 160 crash in Zwarte Meer in June 2022. The aircraft, flying at 5,000ft with an instructor and student on board, suddenly lost altitude and crashed into a lake. The Dutch Safety Board has yet to reach conclusions.

FlightGlobal has contacted Blackshape for comment on the EASA directive.